Life & Culture

Images Produced by Submerging Vintage and Amateur Porn in a Lake

Wanda Orme’s series Take Me Where the Salt Is centres around Salton Sea in California

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Wanda Orme is a multi-disciplinary visual artist and writer who, in her words, was “born on the Isle of Man, raised in London, lost in California”. She has been taking photographs since the age of 14, when her mother bestowed her with her old camera – an Olympus OM10. Her latest project, titled Take Me Where the Salt Is, comprises of vintage and amateur pornography sourced from various online forums, overlaid with aerial images of salt lakes and submerged in Salton Sea – a saline lake located near the San Andreas Fault in California. 

This lake is significant for Orme who first visited the place eight years ago and has since returned many times. “Having moved to America to attend graduate school at 21, I experienced a pretty profound sense of displacement, which in turn sensitised me to connection – finding somewhere I felt I related to so intimately, [Salton Sea] became a kind of home,” she explains. “Beyond this it is simply overwhelmingly beautiful. Understated, fluid and mysterious – for me a sort of eternal source of inspiration.” It seems natural therefore that both these images and Orme’s poetry pivot around the sea.

Here, in the wake of her poetry reading at the 2018 Bombay Beach Biennale, Orme tells us more about Take Me Where the Salt Is and her relationship to Salton Sea.

“These pieces were produced in response to my love for the Salton Sea, a body of water unfolding over 340 square miles of desert in southern California. Saltier than blood or the ocean. I came from an island in the Irish sea to find myself here, drawn to this water in the desert.

“Here, 226 ft below sea level, fluids pool. Fed meagerly by agricultural and industrial run off, the sea cycles through blooms and extreme die-offs of algae and fish, its shores feet deep in sun-bleached bones and barnacles. Evaporating in the desert heat, the sea gets saltier.

“Glistening shore. People talk of death and dying but I’ve not felt that here, precarity and change yes, but this is precisely because it is so alive. Fertile, productive, unavoidably so – the beauty and the vulnerability of this place are intimately linked. This is water in the desert, what makes it most problematic is also what makes it so special.

“This body talks with other bodies, a chemical code, a love song, a conversation. The truth of these interactions is what the Sea is. A material manifestation of story and memory. Bodies after all, cannot lie. This is the real unfolding, asking nothing and everything of us.

“These pieces were photographed in the irrigation channels which surround the Sea, and while attending the 2018 Bombay Beach Biennale where I performed a reading of my forthcoming book of poetry The Becoming Light of Water.”

wandaorme.com